S02 E06: Why Genealogy Sources and Citations Matter

Genealogy sources and citations are important because they help genealogists document, organize, analyze, and prove the evidence that has been gathered for an ancestor. Seeing sources and citations in online trees – or not seeing them – can help you assess the quality of the information published in an online family tree. Spoiler alert: not seeing any sources or citations that can verify ancestral claims is a red flag about the trustworthiness of a family tree.

Genealogy sources and citations will also help current and future genealogists. Any genealogist should be able to access and review the same information sources that we have , review and analyze the information, and reach the same conclusions as we have – or dispute them. In this aspect, genealogy is like a scientific research experiment. Any genealogist should be able to replicate our research – or point out where we’ve gone wrong. Sometimes a genealogist can go wrong in their research simply because a bad resource or information source was used. A citation can help another genealogist point that out.

Another bonus is adding sources and citations to your research will help you remember where you obtained your information – and lets you know all of the places you have looked for information so you don’t duplicate your research efforts.

In theory, a good source citation is simply a matter of including five common elements and two optional elements:

  • Author
  • Title
  • Repository (for publications the place published and publisher; for unpublished material the repository and address)
  • Date
  • Page
  • Library or archive call number (optional)
  • Brief preliminary evaluation comment about the source (optional, but valuable)

There are a number of different citation styles. The Chicago style is the one most commonly used by genealogists. The University of Pittsburgh has provided an easy-to-understand guide about how to create Chicago citations for different kinds of resources (books, websites, images, journals, etc): https://pitt.libguides.com/c.php?g=12108&p=64732.


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Whether you’re new to genealogy, don’t have the time to pursue your own research, or have a stubborn brick wall you just can’t break through: you can hire one of our experienced research team who will happily work with you to achieve your genealogy research goals. As the first Black-owned genealogy research company, our African American genealogists excel at African American genealogy! As African Americans with caucasian ancestors – our genealogists are just as experienced in researching European-descended American ancestry.

The short video below covers what we do and how we do it:

How to contact us

For more information about our genealogy research services, our contact form, and our research service contact, please visit: https://genealogyadventures.net/research

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